Defrosting Grass-Fed Beef

Last week we talked about frozen beef actually being fresh (and best), especially for grass-fed beef. The 2S Ranch's grass-fed/ grass-finished beef is hard frozen after processing, like most all ranches' beef. It's important to know the best way to defrost the beef so that you do not lose flavor, tenderness or taste! It is not good food safety practice to leave beef out on a countertop at room temperature for more than four hours (trust me, four hours is not long enough to defrost hard frozen beef). Therefore, here are three recommended methods for defrosting frozen beef from Lynne Curry and her book Pure Beef

Refrigerator Defrosting- Time: Days 
This is the safest, most foolproof and effortless way to defrost your meat. Put the packaged meat in a container to catch any drips and place it on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator with no other foods, raw or cooked, beneath it. It will take a minimum of two days for a pound of ground beef and up to four days for a three-pound roast. When I plan meals for the week, I pull beef from the freezer to defrost at its own pace to use within five or six days. It is amazing how long it takes for meat to defrost in the refrigerator, and it will sometimes still be partially frozen in the center. Whenever necessary, I use the Cold Water Bath method to complete defrosting.
Cold Water Bath- Time: Hours
Submerging frozen beef in cold water is the method many restaurateurs use for quick defrosting. Place the meat in a container at least four times the size of the cut for good circulation. Fill the container with cool water (below 70 degrees) and change the water every 30-40 minutes. A pound of ground beef or steak will defrost within two hours. You can expedite the process by letting a cold trickle of cool water run over the meat. Because of the water waste, I am reluctant to do this except in an urgent situation. It is most effective with steaks and other small cuts of packages of meat or to finish defrosting larger roasts. 
Microwave- Time: Minutes 
This is the riskiest defrosting method, to be reserved for when you're in a pinch. Wait until just before you are about to cook the meat, because the microwave can heat the meat to an unsafe temperature (above 40 degrees). Microwaves also heat the meat very unevenly and can even start to cook it, especially ground beef or the tips of steaks. Larger pieces of meat over two pounds that are still frozen in the center fare best. Use short bursts of the defrost setting on your microwave, turn the meat frequently, and cook it immediately. 

Yes, you can cook frozen beef. It takes about four to five times longer to cook and you lose control over the doneness of your meat. Cooking frozen beef also increases the potential for bacteria to grow when the beef is in the temperature range of 41- 140 degrees. 

Remembering to defrost your grass-fed beef will become habitual once you become a loyal customer of grass-fed/ grass-finished beef! 


Sections of this article were reprinted with permission from Pure Beef © 2012 by Lynne Curry, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.